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Towards the Doctrine of the Trinity. The ‘Spirit-fighters’. The models of the trinity. Apollinarian controversy. The Second Ecumenical Council: Constantinople, 381. The ‘Spirit-fighters’. Emerged in 361 Taught that the Holy Spirit was one of God’s gifts, not a divine person

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Towards the Doctrine of the Trinity

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Towards the doctrine of the trinity l.jpg

Towards the Doctrine of the Trinity

  • The ‘Spirit-fighters’.

  • The models of the trinity.

  • Apollinarian controversy.

  • The Second Ecumenical Council: Constantinople, 381.


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The ‘Spirit-fighters’

  • Emerged in 361

  • Taught that the Holy Spirit was one of God’s gifts, not a divine person

  • Opposed by the Cappadocian Fathers


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The range of arguments deployed in the trinitarian controversy:

  • Theories of analogy, meaning, reference and the limitations of religious language.

    --example: use of prepositions for Son and Holy Spirit (Basil, De Sp. S.)

  • Interpretation of the Bible: titles of the Son & the HS consideration of individual passages; the overall purpose of scripture.

  • The logic and meaning of the local baptismal creeds.

  • The appeal to the apostolic tradition and the individual Fathers.

  • Large scale metaphysical presuppositions & “fittingness” arguments.

  • The implicit theologies of the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist.

  • The implications of worshipping the Son and the Holy Spirit and addressing prayers to them

  • The experience of deification and sanctification.

  • The logic of salvation (only God deifies and sanctifies).

  • Reductio ad heresim, ad hominem arguments, mutual accusations of immorality, political pressure.


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The Doctrine of the Trinity

Inadequate extreme positions (heresies):

1. Modalism

2. Subordinationism (Arianism)

3. Tritheism (three gods)

Orthodox definition:

One essence, three persons


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Subordinationism (Arianism)

Unity of three persons

Distinction of three persons

orthodoxy

Tritheism

Modalism

Equality of F., S. & H. S.


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Who do you say that I am?

  • What is Jesus’ relationship to God the Father?

  • What is Jesus’ relationship to human beings?


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The teaching of Apollinaris of Laodicea (310-390)

  • Friend of Athanasius

  • Gifted exegete and apologist

  • Loyal to the Nicene faith: emphasized full divinity of Christ

  • His teaching regarding humanity of Christ condemned at the council of Constantinople in 381 (to be discussed during seminar)


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Gregory of Nazianzus (325-389)

  • One of the Cappadocian Fathers

  • Major defender of the doctrine of the Trinity at the council of Constantinople

  • Argued against Apollinaris: ‘That which was not assumed was not healed.’


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The Second Ecumenical Council

  • Met in Constantinople in 381

  • Condemned the teaching of Apollinaris

  • Affirmed that Christ is fully human

  • Defined the doctrine of the Trinity


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Theodosius I (346-395) makes pro-Nicene orthodoxy the only acceptable form of religion

All the people who are ruled by the administration of our Clemency shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans… It is evident that this is the religion that is followed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity…

We command that those persons who follow this rule [of trinitarian faith] shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom we adjure demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with the divine judgment.”


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Seminar questions

  • How does Gregory formulate the fundamental dilemma involved in speaking about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? (p. 256)

  • What is the gist of Ablabius’ argument? (p. 256-7)

  • What is Gregory’s initial answer to the difficulty involved? What answer would be deemed satisfactory for simple Christians? (p. 257)

  • What does the term ‘Godhead’ refer to? (pp. 259-260)

  • What distinguishes the actions of Father, Son & Holy Spirit from the actions of human beings? (pp. 261-62)

  • What distinctions does Gregory admit among the persons of the Trinity? (p. 266)


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